8/12/13: The Reds promoted Robert Stephenson to Double-A.
I’ve been wanting to begin writing my own scouting reports for some time now, but other daily obligations, such as work and summer college classes, have gotten in the way. Ironically enough, that’s how I began writing this scouting report — I couldn’t make it to a game because of traffic on my way back from work, so decided I could use my time to write instead. This being my first scouting report, I thought why not do it on the best prospect I’ve seen to this point.
Name: Robert Stephenson | Position: RHP | Video: Yes
Organization: Cincinnati Reds | Current Team: Bakersfield (High-A)
DOB: February 24, 1993 | Age: 20
Height: 6’2″ | Weight: 190
Draft: Round 1, No. 27, 2011 | Bonus: $2,000,000 (via Baseball America)
Games Seen: 1 | Date: 7/19/13
Next Year: Double-A | ML Arrival: 2015
Top Class: ML | Probability: Moderate
Mechanics: The delivery can be a tad high-effort with an occasional neck snap then head bobble as he fires. Fills out all the boxes: athletic; repeatable; simple; explosive. Keeps balance throughout the delivery and finishes well. Has room to add weight, giving him a top of the rotation body.
Fastball: Pumped it in the upper mid-90s routinely before losing a tick or two in the later innings. Topped out at 99. Obviously, the velocity is amazing, but so is the life and movement on the pitch. Hitters were cheating on it, but they had no choice. Elite offering. Needs to improve the command of the pitch, though.
Curveball: Already an advanced pitch that could earn 50 grades in the present. 11-5 break that sits in the lower 80 MPH range. I believe it has 70 grade potential, giving Stephenson a second out pitch. Can use it as a chase pitch, but also possesses the ability to throw strikes with it to left and right handed batters. I would like to see attack more inside when it comes to location with the offering against right-handed batters, which should come with time as he improves his command.
Changeup: Developing the pitch, but a feel is there. The pitch will sit in the upper 80s to low 90s (88-91). Stephenson is confident in the pitch. Threw it early and didn’t neglect it. A bit firm, but flashed potential for a plus grade. It darts down and away to left-handed batters. Will play up because of the 8 fastball. Future 60 grade potential with 50 at worst.
Other: Stephenson possesses that swagger/attitude you look for in a potential ace. He came onto the mound with confidence and a purpose as if he wanted to send every single batter he faced down on strikes. He never gave in to batters even when falling behind (didn’t walk a batter) or showed up teammates after defensive misplays behind him (there were a couple). I was surprised with how advanced Stephenson’s stuff is, but also his control of the offerings. He didn’t walk a single batter and didn’t get behind on hitters. It’s always fun to watch a guy with the stuff and is aggressive in the zone with it.
Overall: To recap, Stephenson is a 20-year-old that could have offerings of an elite fastball, plus-plus curveball and plus changeup. He also has the intangibles/makeup to go with his lethal arsenal, making him one of the few (only?) current pitching prospects you can dream on becoming an ace at the major league level. While 99.9% of players will come up short of actualizing an ace ceiling, Stephenson can be the exception. I say that as someone who prefers to be safe rather than aggressive on players. You’re at least looking at a top of the rotation starting pitcher. I expect him to finish the year at High-A and begin the following season in Double-A, so I’ll pencil him in for a 2015 ETA.
Disclaimer: I am not a scout. If I was, you wouldn’t find my scouting report online. I am only posting my personal opinion on said player as an objective witness.